Formation Mechanism of Fe Nanocubes by Magnetron Sputtering Inert Gas Condensation

In this work, we study the formation mechanisms of iron nanoparticles (Fe NPs) grown by magnetron sputtering inert gas condensation and emphasize the decisive kinetics effects that give rise specifically to cubic morphologies. Our experimental results, as well as computer simulations carried out by two different methods, indicate that the cubic shape of Fe NPs is explained by basic differences in the kinetic growth modes of {100} and {110} surfaces rather than surface formation energetics. Both our experimental and theoretical investigations show that the final shape is defined by the combination of the condensation temperature and the rate of atomic deposition onto the growing nanocluster. We, thus, construct a comprehensive deposition rate–temperature diagram of Fe NP shapes and develop an analytical model that predicts the temporal evolution of these properties. Combining the shape diagram and the analytical model, morphological control of Fe NPs during formation is feasible; as such, our method proposes a roadmap for experimentalists to engineer NPs of desired shapes for targeted applications.